A taonga has been stolen from Whanganui's Waimarie paddle steamer.
The wood carving was stolen some time in the last two weeks.
The taonga, created by master carver Dean Flavell, is based on the taurapa washboard found of the rear of the taurapa (canoe sternpost).
The kowhaiwhai pattern carved in the background is called mangopare (hammerhead shark), a design used to represent strength and which symbolises the river.
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Waimarie manager Phil Pollero isn't sure when it was stolen, but reported it missing last Saturday.
"It's just one of those things that is always there so it can take time to notice it.
"A staff member noticed it missing, we can't identify when it was taken yet. We are just going through all the CCTV footage at the moment."
The carving was taken from the saloon of the vessel where it was placed when the boat was relaunched in 2000.
Pollero was frustrated as to why someone would take it.
"It is very disappointing to have it taken from us. It's precious to us and we want it back. We are hoping the public can help us recover the piece."
Anyone with any information regarding the missing taonga is asked to contact the Whanganui Riverboat Centre on 06 347 1863.